The Vatican cannot rescind a papal knighthood awarded to pedophile presenter Jimmy Savile.
British broadcaster BBC is in turmoil after it emerged that Savile was a serial child abuser.
Station bosses are reeling as police investigations uncover more evidence against Savile, the Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It presenter.
Disgraced singer Gary Glitter was arrested on Sunday as part of the ongoing police enquiries into the Savile case.
Now the Vatican has confirmed to BBC news reporters that it has been asked to rescind a papal knighthood awarded to Savile in 1990.
As reports claim Savile abused some 300 people, a Vatican spokesman admitted: “The knighthood should not have been bestowed.”
The Catholic Church in England and Wales has also confirmed that it has written to the Holy See and asked for the honour to be posthumously removed.
Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, has called for an investigation and recognised the ‘deep distress’ of Savile’s alleged victims.
Saville was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great, one of the highest awards the Pope can bestow, by Pope John Paul II for his charity work.
The Vatican’s official spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the BBC:
“The Holy See firmly condemns the horrible crimes of sexual abuse of minors and considers the Savile revelations as very grave.
“It is deeply saddened that a person who has been soiled in this way could in his lifetime have been proposed for an honour by the Holy See, which in the light of recent information should certainly not have been bestowed.
“As there does not exist any permanent official list of persons who have received papal honours in the past, it is not possible to strike anyone off a list that does not exist.
“The names of recipients of papal honours do not appear in the Pontifical Year Book and the honour expires with the death of the individual.
“The most important thing, therefore, is to reaffirm the Church’s condemnation of all forms of sexual abuse, and particularly abuse of minors, as extremely grave crimes. The Holy See is adamant on this point.”
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in England and Wales also confirmed that Archbishop Nichols has written to the Holy See asking that Savile’s knighthood be posthumously removed and its effects nullified.
The spokesman said: “The Archbishop’s letter was written recognising the deep distress of all those who have suffered abuse and the disquiet at Mr Savile’s name remaining on papal honours lists.
“It is clearly an exceptional request. The Church invites all those who have suffered abuse to come forward to the appropriate authorities.”
The BBC has been criticised for failing to stop the alleged abuse during Savile’s long career at the corporation.
It is also under fire for axing a 2011 Newsnight report into the claims and its handling of the subsequent scandal.